What philosophical, religious, or cultural ideas served to legitimize the class and gender inequalities of classical civilizations?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Several different ancient cultural traditions reinforced gender inequality. First, religion and religious ritual had distinct gender differentiation, with many activities being either all male or all female. Second, ancient literature portrayed women and slaves in their traditionally disempowered roles. Third, due to the high infant mortality rate, women married at puberty, meaning that men in their late 20s or early 30s were marrying uneducated teenage girls and seeking other men for companionship. Fourth, the legal systems of ancient Greece and Rome enshrined class equality in laws limiting access to voting and official position to people of specified income and/or parentage.

With the exception of Aristotle, who argued for the existence of “natural slavery”, most philosophical schools in antiquity practised and advocated less gender and class inequality than society at large.

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